COPPERAS COVE – The most accomplished resume of any NJCAA football team was punctuated Saturday afternoon in Copperas Cove at the 14th annual C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl.
With 36 seconds left, record-setting freshman kicker Leo Peralta split the uprights with a 21-yard field goal to cap a 13-play, 76-yard drive to give the third-ranked Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals a 27-24 win against No. 10 Coffeyville Community College’s Ravens. Peralta was named the MVP of the 2014 H.O.T Bowl NJCAA game.
As a result, the Cardinals recorded the third 12-0 season in school history and the first since 1997.
The Cardinals closed the season with eight wins against teams ranked in the NJCAA Top 25 at one point in the season, averaging 55.8 points in those victories. All but two of the season’s dozen wins rank among the Top 35 scoring games in school history.
The season also ends with the Cardinals owning no fewer than three NJCAA records – Total Yards (7,777), Yards Per Game (648.3) and PATs (95).
To save their unbeaten season, the Cardinals twice went on long scoring drives in the fourth quarter. In addition to the game-winner, they also drove 80 yards in eight plays to tie the score at 24-24 on a five-yard flip pass from Kyle Postma to Darius Floyd.
The drive answered a 68-yard Coffeyville touchdown on a Brock Gilmore pass to Dominique Reed on the first play after the Ravens had recovered a Cardinal fumble.
The Cardinal defense shut down the Ravens the rest of the way and the offense took it from there.
The Cardinals posted the game’s initial lead on their opening possession, when Postma hit Jarvis Baxter streaking across the middle of the field. Baxter, who left the game with a knee injury late in the first half, raced away to complete a 39-yard scoring play. Peralta hit the first of his three PATs, which would put him in the NJCAA record book with 95.
Peralta kicked 34-yard field goal with 1:35 left in the opening quarter to move the Cardinals back on top, 10-7. The Ravens had gotten on the scoreboard on their previous possession with a 60-yard Gilmore-to-Reed hookup.
Coffeyville took its first lead with 7:23 left in the second quarter on a three-yard Alan Barnwell run.
Less than three minutes later, the Cardinals were back on top when Jerrod Evans closed an eight-play, 59-yard drive with a three-yard run on fourth-and-goal.
The Cardinals led 17-14 at the half.
The Ravens pulled even with the only score of the third quarter at the 8:05 mark on a 34-yard Michael Pursley field goal.
Luis Lopez, the Cardinals’ MVP a year ago in the bowl game, led the ground game with 105 yards on 23 carries. Marquel McNac finished with 94 on 15 carries. Postma had 64 on six.
Postma completed 20-of-35 passes for 243 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Before his early departure with the injury, Baxter caught four passes for 96 yards.
Davonte McMillian led the Cardinals’ defensive effort 5.5 tackles, 4.5 of which were for losses, including a sack. Dakota Smith recovered a fumble.